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Lockheed, Raytheon receive contracts for nuclear cruise missile

The two $900 million contracts are for the development of the Long Range Stand Off nuclear cruise missile.

By Stephen Carlson
Lockheed, Raytheon receive contracts for nuclear cruise missile
The new LRSO missile is set to the replace the AGM-86B ALCM, pictured over the White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico. U.S. Air Force photo

Aug. 24 (UPI) -- Lockheed Martin and Raytheon have each received $900 million contracts for the development of the Long Range Stand Off nuclear cruise missile, the Department of Defense announced on Wednesday.

The contracts run until 2022, when one of the two companies will be selected to finish development of the missile. The work will primarily be conducted in Orlando, Fla., and Tucson, Ariz.

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"This weapon will modernize the air-based leg of the nuclear triad," Secretary of the Air Force Heather Wilson said in a statement.

"Deterrence works if our adversaries know that we can hold at risk things they value. This weapon will enhance our ability to do so, and we must modernize it cost-effectively."

The Long Range Stand-Off program is an Air Force initiative to replace the AGM-86 Air Launched Cruise Missile deployed on the B-52H Stratofortress strategic bomber.

The ALCM is the current nuclear-capable cruise missile in the U.S. inventory after the retirement of the TLAM-N Tomahawk. It's AGM-86B model can mount a W80 thermonuclear warhead with a yield of up to 200 kilotons. It dates back to the early 1980s and has long exceeded its planned 10-year service life.

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The LRSO would be mounted on the B-52H, B-2 Spirit stealth bomber and the future B-21 Raider bomber currently under development. It is expected to start being deployed in the late 2020s.

The weapon has faced controversy and some opposition in Congress over its anticipated cost and questions over whether a nuclear capable cruise missile is needed.

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